Swiss citizens vote against 2022 Winter Games bid

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Davos and St. Moritz, Switzerland were the early favorites to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, but their collective bid has been dropped after Swiss citizens voted Sunday against millions in funding to put towards the bidding process.

The referendum actually passed in the Davos and St. Moritz proper, earning 56.2 and 61 percent support respectively, as citizens were eager to have the Olympics return to their resort towns for a record third time, and first since 1948.

But their nearby neighbors shot down the bid due to concerns over the financial cost, and it ultimately failed with 52.66 voting against putting their name in the 2022 hat. The same type of vote actually kept Bern, Switzerland from bidding for the 2010 Games.

Switzerland’s exit from consideration, coupled with the fact that the U.S. is saving its efforts for a 2024 bid, opens the doors for a number of cities which were thought to have a less than stellar shot, including Oslo, Barcelona, Munich, and Krakow, Poland in cooperation with Slovakia.

Munich, which finished second to Pyeongchang, South Korea to host the 2018 Games, would seemingly jump to the top of the list of favorites for 2022. The other cities have plenty of time to strategize, however, since the IOC won’t actually vote on which city wins the bid until August 2015.

Syria-born Olympian takes advocacy role at U.N. refugee agency

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GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. refugee agency has chosen as a goodwill ambassador a Syrian teenage girl who helped save a boat carrying fellow refugees and later became an Olympic swimmer.

Yusra Mardini was appointed as UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador on Thursday, joining other notables like actress Cate Blanchett and author Khaled Hosseini in the unpaid advocacy role.

UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said Mardini “represents the hopes, the fears and the incredible potential of the more than 10 million young refugees around the globe.”

Mardini and her sister Sarah jumped overboard and swam for hours alongside their overloaded boat to reach Greece from Turkey in 2015.

She swam on the first Refugee Olympic team in Rio last year and has discussed refugees’ challenges with leaders like Pope Francis and President Barack Obama.

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Rafael Nadal recreates famous 1992 Olympic cauldron lighting

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Rafael Nadal, owner of two Olympic gold medals, recently parroted arguably the most famous moment in Spanish Olympic history.

Nadal and Marc Lopez, the 2016 Olympic doubles champions, took up bows and arrows and joined archer Antonio Rebollo on Monday at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Stadium. It brought back memories of Rebollo’s unforgettable cauldron lighting from the only Olympics held in Spain.

Nadal is in Barcelona for an ATP Tour event as he prepares to vie for a 10th French Open title next month.

Rebollo, now 61 years old, was one of 200 hundred archers considered to light the cauldron in 1992. He learned that he was chosen for the role over four other finalists two hours ahead of time, according to an NBC Olympics profile in 1996.

The cauldron would be 195 feet away. Fearing Rebollo would miss the target, organizers instructed him to fire his arrow beyond the stadium walls. As the arrow soared, a technician lit the natural gas flame with a remote control.

The illusion worked. The true story wasn’t revealed for another 20 years.

“There were no fears,” Rebollo, a Barcelona native who contracted polio at age 8, told NBC two decades ago. “I was practically a robot. I focused on my positioning and reaching the target. That was all. … My feelings were taken from the people who described to me how they saw it. What they felt, their emotions, their cries. This is what made me realize what the moment actually meant.”

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